2015 Record Breaking Year for South Dakota Tourism


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - 2015 was a record breaking year for tourism in South Dakota.

Officials say the 75th Sturgis motorcycle rally had record breaking attendance and more people made the trip to Mount Rushmore than ever before.

Nearly 14 million people visited South Dakota and they spent a record amount of money.

2016 has kept up with last year.

62,000 more hotel rooms have been booked this year compared to last year and tax revenue is up by more than $3 million dollars.

The Towne Place Suites near the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls has more guests walking through the front doors.

“Our hotel has actually increased about 4 percent occupancy for the year,” general manager Jim Wasco said.

He says he thinks he knows what's spurring the increase in occupancy.

“I think the biggest thing for us is the construction business that came about here in Sioux Falls. There are a lot of buildings going up and it's one of our main key areas of focus because we do offer all suite properties with full kitchens in there, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher,” he explained.

But it's not just extended stay hotels that are seeing an increase this year.

“It’s been a great summer for Sioux Falls,” Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Terri Schmidt said.

She says conventions and events play a big part in bringing people to Sioux Falls.

“The air show for example was a big shot in the arm for Sioux Falls. You got things like Hot Harley Nights, all the things that go on downtown, the soccer tournaments, the softball tournaments,” she said.

Some areas were down this year.

“We have seen a little bit of a dip, for example, when the Sturgis rally took place. If the numbers are high in the hills we usually see high numbers here as well. Well, we all know their numbers were down a little bit so our numbers were down a little bit,” she explained.

She thinks next year is going to stay on this track.

“Projections are that 2017 is looking a little flat, which means things will stay about the same as they are this year; no increase, no decrease,” Schmidt said.

Sioux Falls has a lot to gain from tourism.

With hotel room taxes alone, the city has made $33,000 dollars more than last year already.

Those are just from overnight stays.Every person who takes a day trip contributes to city sales tax.

While tourism looks strong this year, the busiest time of year, summer, isn't quite over yet.

State officials will have a more accurate outlook of this year after September.

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